How Can Mass Tourism Businesses Embrace Sustainability without Green-Washing?
By Frances Figart
The panel on “Mainstream Goes Green: Many Shades of Green” at the upcoming Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC), Sept 19-21, 2011, will address, through case studies from various organizations and destinations, questions such as: What does it mean for mass tourism to go green? What should be appropriate and realistic goals?
One of the speakers on this panel is Jerusha Greenwood, Assistant Professor in the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration department at California Polytechnic State University. She will present on “Best Practices in Sustainable Tourism Marketing – A California Case Study”, focusing on the state of California’s work with tourism businesses and sustainability practices.
See the interview below with Jerusha to get a glimpse of the issues and questions that she will address at the conference.
Interview with Jerusha Greenwood, California Polytechnic State University
Frances: What are the most important lessons we are going to learn from your presentation next week?
- It is possible for businesses of any size to embrace sustainable business operations.
- Because hotels play a key role in the landscape of a destination, it is critical that they lead the way in adopting sustainable business operations and model best practices.
- Social marketing is just as important to the success of a business as traditional forms of marketing; the fact that social marketing promotes interaction between consumer and business will mean businesses who say they practice sustainability must “walk the talk” without fail.
Frances: What does it mean for mass tourism to go green?
Jerusha: Green trends among large corporations have to mean more than simply replacing traditional light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs. In order to enact a culture of change throughout the “mass tourism industry,” green trends must embrace the soul of sustainability, and environmental health must go hand in hand with fair/living wages and reinvestment in communities. I’m not a fan of the “go green” buzz-words. I think it’s more important to think about corporate responsibility for the triple bottom line. I also feel that mass tourism will help sustainable operations become more mainstream because they reach the bulk of the consumer market. As that large section of the population becomes accustomed to sustainable practices, they will demand it of the smaller businesses they interact with.
Frances: What are appropriate and realistic goals for mass tourism making the transition to sustainable tourism?
Jerusha: Firms that fall in the mass tourism category should set their goals for sustainability using Wendell Berry’s “17 Rules for a Sustainable Economy“. If a corporation can follow even half of the rules Berry proposes, they will help support the local communities on which they depend, sustain a healthy environment, and help foster diverse economic systems resilient against economic downturns. Berry’s rules can be found in his book “Another Turn of the Crank“.
Frances: Which of your current or recent projects are you most excited about?
Jerusha: My Sustainable Travel and Tourism Planning course at Cal Poly had the opportunity to work with the San Luis Obispo County Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) this spring. The TBID is interested in creating a “Highway 1 Loop” of San Luis Obispo County that highlights the unique character of the “SLO Life” and our “Wine Coast Country.” They wanted the students to do this by exploring agritourism, ecotourism, and food/wine tourism opportunities and to incorporate sustainable modes of travel in their plans for the loop. The partnership was a great success, with the students presenting their plans for the loop to the executive board of the TBID. The board is excited about moving forward with the loop project!
Formerly the editor of Courier, the monthly travel magazine for the National Tour Association, Frances Figart has spoken about ecotourism marketing at travel industry conferences in the U.S., Canada and Europe, is a special advisor to Sustainable Travel International, and has shared her communications skills as a speaker and through committee work with The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and as a volunteer and sponsor for the Adventure Travel Trade Association. She is currently living in Winchester, Kentucky, and providing writing, editing and marketing services for a variety of business and travel clients both locally and globally. Frances serves on the Advisory Committee for the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference 2011.
Jerusha Greenwood is an assistant professor in the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She has advanced degrees from the University of Utah and North Carolina State University and focuses her research and teaching on sustainable tourism, agritourism, and natural resources recreation. The California case study that Jerusha will be presenting at the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference 2011 – “Best Practices in Sustainable Tourism Marketing – A California Case Study” – sought to identify sustainable tourism marketing best practices in California that could be utilized for benchmarking by tourism organizations.